HDTV for the naïve technophile : Computer Hardware Buyers’ Glossary

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HDTV
HDTV (High Definition Television) : A new digital broadcast format for television, both via the air and via cable. The ATSC (Advanced Television Systems Committee) devised the American digital TV standards for resolutions from 704 × 480 ( DTV (Digital Television) ) to 1920 × 1080 ( HDTV 1080p).

There are three kinds of TV:

  1. the old analog NTSC (National Television System Committee aka Never The Same Colour), now pretty much obsolete.
  2. digital DTV . It is on the way out already even before it was officially mandated.
  3. digital widescreen HDTV, the most costly.

There are still analog and DTV TVs out in the world, but all new ones are HDTV. Cable services offer analog, DTV and HDTV usually charging a premium for DTV and HDTV.

Advantages of DTV Monitor vs Digital TV Motorola DCT700 Adapter
Disadvantages of DTV HDTV cables and Connectors Rant
Satellite vs Cable DVR Future
Why So Expensive? Real World Equipment Telus Optik
Open Up Your Wallet Roedy’s HDTV Internet TV
One Time Costs Bandwidth The Bottom Line
Monthly Costs Stages Links
What Channels Do I Get? HDTV Pleasant Surprises
Display Technology HDTV Disappointments

Advantages of DTV

The USA was officially switching on 2009-02-17 from analog NTSC to digital and dropping analog, however the have delayed it to 2009-07, though some stations have already switched. Your analog VCR (Videocassette Recorder) will stop working too. Thereafter you will need to buy an analog to digital converter to make your current TV work. The current VHF (Very High Frequency) channels will be recycled for things like cell phones, Internet transmissions, pagers etc. However, most cable and satellite services will continue to offer the old analog connection. In Canada, Shaw cable will continue to offer analog service until about 2011.

We will see gigantic hard disks replacing the VCR. This should bring down the cost of hard disks for computer users.

The catch is, the programming content is the same old same old you got on analog TV; it is just prettier.

Disadvantages of DTV

Satellite vs Cable

There are four sources of programming: Since one satellite serves an entire continent, it tends to have many channels originating in distance cities. It tends to be shy on local channels. Cable is the reverse. Make a list of your must have channels and make sure they are included in whatever plan you are considering. You will be surprised how many vendors deliberately leave out obvious channels from the basic set.

Satellite tends to be less expensive. However you must have written permission of your landlord for the satellite company to install the dish, and you must have a clear line of site to satellite from where the dish is mounted.

Check the direction to the satellite for Star Choice from your city. For example, from Victoria where I live, it is azimuth:140°, elevation:32.3°, skew:76° for one of their satellites and azimuth:145° elevation:33.1° skew:79° for the other. The azimuth is the number of degrees clockwise/east of due north. The elevation is the angle above the horizon. The skew is an electronic trick to let one dish point at two different satellites simultaneously. I have not been able to find anything more detailed than that. The experts treat it is something you mindlessly tweak to the setting the satellite company tells you to.

Normally, you would point your dish half way between the two satellites. In my case the dish has to point south east, 37.5° east of due south, to the sky without any trees or buildings blocking the way. The geosynchronous Anik satellite orbits at exactly the same speed as the earth rotates at stationary orbit 37,014.91 km (23,000 miles) high above the ground. The radius of the earth is only 6,371 km (3,958.76 miles). Thus is hovers about the exact same spot on the ground, one at 107.3°W and one at 111.1°W, above the equator roughly at the longitude of Moosejaw about 1,650 km (1,025.26 miles) west of the Galapagos Islands.

The satellite company will deal with disk installation and aligning for you. They need to install a more powerful type of disk to deal with HDTV. You don’t have to understand any of this technobabble. Just be aware, that satellite service can’t always be provided. It requires a clear line of site to the satellite. So for example if you lived in an apartment building with a northern exposure, you are S.O.L. even if your landlord does give you permission to set up a dish.

Bell TV (née ExpressVu) is vague about where there satellites are. They say only that they are south for western Canada and south west for locations Manitoba east. This implies their Telesat Nimiq 4 satellite is placed close to where Star Choice does.

You can buy or rent DVDs (Digital Video Discs). To get full 1080p resolution, you must have a fairly expensive blu-Ray DVD player. With ordinary DVD players and discs, you will just get the same resolution image you did on your old analog TV.

Here in Victoria there are three choices of provider:

Bell TV Satellite Advantages/Disadvantages

Shaw.ca Cable Advantages/Disadvantages

Star Choice Satellite Advantages/Disadvantages

Open Up Your Wallet

The cost of a new HDTV can really add up, because you will also be strongly tempted to buy: Before you buy a TV, note the model number and check it out on the Internet. You should be able to find detailed specs, comparative prices, diagrams of the connectors, and even the manual.

Why So Expensive?

When you double the size of a screen, you have four times as many pixels. In the manufacturing process it is much more difficult to manufacture a large screen than a small one with no defects. If four small screens have one defect among them, the manufacturer discards one screen and sells three. If a big screen, the equivalent in size to four small screens, has a defect, the manufacturer discards the big screen and has nothing to sell. That is partly why large screen TVs are so much more expensive than smaller ones.

One Time Costs

You will need to buy an HDTV and sign up with a cable or satellite service. The costs for this add up very quickly.
One Time TV Costs
Cost
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Purpose
$500.00 CAD purchase adapter box with TiVo-style PVR recording ability. Your cable provider may insist you purchase this from him. Ideally it will let you watch one HD program, stopping, rewinding, fast forwarding while it records another HD channel in the background. Ideally a PVR should have 500 gigabytes or more of disk space and a Blu-Ray DVD writer to export HD shows to DVD. Beware! some PVRs (Personal Video Recorders) can’t handle HD.
$400.00 CAD purchase adapter box with without TiVo-style PVR recording ability. Your cable provider may insist you purchase this from him.
$150.00 CAD Extended 4-year replacement warranty
$100.00 CAD cables. TVs come without any cables.
$99.00 CAD purchase a receiver (adapter box) without TiVo-style recording ability, for satellite. Add a $150.00 CAD USB external 1 TB hard disk to convert from a digital box to a 1000 hour PVR.
? sales taxes
? installation. satellite dish. They may be included, and then they may not.
$60.00 CAD Government recycling fees

Monthly Costs

Monthly TV Costs
Monthly Fee
CurrCon Applet needs Java 1.7 or later to display prices in your local currency.
Purpose
$115.00 CAD deluxe HDTV cable service, includes digital and analog, 60 analog channels, 50 Digital channels, 25 HDTV, 30 specialty channels, a movie, 40 digital audio channels. channel.
$72.00 CAD deluxe digital cable service, includes 60 analog channels, 100 digital channels, movies, 40 digital audio channels
$69.00 CAD basic HDTV satellite service from Bell TV (née ExpressVu). 0 analog channels, 100 digital channels, 6 theme packs (about 10 channels per pack), 22 HDTV. You can change the channels you subscribe to by logging into the Bell website.
$67.00 CAD basic HDTV cable service, includes digital and analog, 60 analog channels, 50 Digital channels, 25 HDTV, 40 digital audio channels.
$58.00 CAD basic digital cable service, includes analog 60 analog channels, 100 digital channels, 40 digital audio channels
$56.00 CAD deluxe old style analog cable service, 60 analog channels
$37.00 CAD basic HDTV satellite service from Star choice 0 analog channels, 60 digital channels, 14 HDTV. Many of these are near duplicates, the same channel as broadcast in different cities across Canada.
$36.00 CAD bare bones digital service, 35 channels, plus 40 commercial-free, talk-free music channels (titles on the screen tell you what is playing) in a decent selection of genres and a FRAME channel (images that look like wall paintings with elevator music), some analog, some digital depending on what the station broadcasts, though your TV sees them all as digital on channel 3. I have had three different answers from three different Shaw employees on just what parts of the system are analog and which parts digital. The bottom line is image quality on all channels seems slightly improved. No HDTV. Shaw offers this bundle, but does not mention it on its website. You can add specialty channels, but not HD channels, for $3.00 CAD each with discounts for multiples. Access to some channels requires subscribing to a tier for about $10.00 CAD . Why the complications!!! This is what I am currently using myself.
$33.00 CAD basic old style analog cable service, 35 analog channels
$14.00 CAD HD HBO (Home Box Office) channel
$3.00 CAD basic digital adapter box rental. Your cable provider will insist you rent/purchase this from him.
Prices are those Shaw Cable charged in Victoria, BC, Canada in 2009-03, for ball park budgeting.

What Channels Do I Get?

I spent days going over the websites of content providers Bell TV, Shaw and Star Choice.

The websites were designed by the same guy who created the forms you use to calculate your income tax. I think the intent is deliberate bamboozlement to keep people from figuring out how much they will have to spend up front, what the monthly costs are, and what channels they will get. They never quote you the actual price of anything. They show some price, then a confusing set of discounts. Then in the fine print they explain why you don’t actually get the discounts much of the time. It is very hard to nail down all the charges with any certainty. I discovered that one vendor even had the gall to charge a fee if you did not return the set top box in pristine condition that you had supposedly purchased up front, if you canceled service within a year. The lists of channels are not sorted in any order. There all kinds of weird rules about what channels you may combine, e.g. that you may not order the HD channel unless you also order the DTV version of it. This is silly. If you have the HD channel, you don’t even want the DTV version. You don’t just choose the extra channels you want above the basic package, you must select bundles. A given desired channel may appear in several different bundles, so you have to juggle to get the best fit to the channels you actually want. It burns me up to be forced to pay for religious channels. I don’t want to support those crooks with even a penny. The websites contradict themselves in rules, channels and prices. They need a computer program to help customers configure the channels you want for the minimum price. One of the most common dishonest ploys they use is to quote you an introductory price, and then in the fine print tell you the rate goes up after a year. It seems to me it would be ever so much simpler just to tick off the channels you want and have a computer program tote up the cost of the channels individually with volume discounts.

I found printing the PDF files produced the clearest information.

You also want to know what sorts of output the adapter box provides so you can be sure your TV supports one of them, and to have the appropriate cable on hand if that is your responsibility. Bell gives none of this information.

The other piece of questionable business practice that these companies indulge in is forcing you to buy an adapter box from them an inflated prices. They excuse themselves by saying they can’t be expected to deal with hundreds of different models, so they force everyone to standardize on one, and buy it from the cable/satellite company. My nephew, a movie actor, managed to talk Shaw into breaking this rule, but the hassle was not worth the savings. They need to understand how the box works so they can use it to align the dish pointing directly at the satellite.

A Shaw technician explained why some channels you get with digital service are still delivered over cable in the old analog form to the adapter box. It is because some TV stations are still broadcasting analog. As they flip over to digital, then digital service customers will get them in digital, and Shaw will convert the digital signal to analog for the legacy analog service customers. Some stations such as CHEK already provide both analog and digital via fibre optic to Shaw, who then pass the digital on to digital customers and analog to the analog customers. The flipover to digital in the USA is due to be complete by 2009-07. There is no corresponding date mandated for Canada.

Satellite companies have no choice but to deliver digitally, so they convert any signals from TV stations broadcasting only in analog to digital before sending them up to the satellite.

Display Technologies

There are four main types of display technology:
  1. LCD

    liquid Crystal display: sharp, low power, limited viewing angle.
  2. LED-LCD

    liquid Crystal display: sharp, low power, limited viewing angle, with an LED (Light-Emitting Diode) backlight. This gives high contrast and a bright image. The Samsung LED is actually an ordinary LCD screen, with LEDs (Light-Emitting Diodes) to provide the backlight. The LEDs are not used to create the picture the way the would be on a football scoreboard. For viewing sports, to reduce motion blur, there are 100 Hz (Hertz) and up models that refresh the picture more frequently. In contrast, theatre film movies work at 24 Hz. Analog TV works at 30 Hz.
  3. gas plasma

    bright, high contrast, more expensive than LCD. Uses more power. It uses so much more power, some countries are considering banning them.
  4. OLED (Organic Light-Emitting Diode)

    OLED, latest out the lab, vibrant colours, from Sony, obscenely expensive.
Sony Bravia TVs have a feature called MotionFlow. It inserts up to 3 extra interpolated frames between every transmitted frame to make the motion appear smoother. Movies display 24 frames a second, analog TV displays 30, DTV displays 60 and MotionFlow up to 200. The subjective effect is to reduce blurring on fast motion.

Monitor vs Digital TV

An LCD computer monitor looks very much like a digital TV. However there are some differences. You can convert your computer/monitor into an HDTV by adding a low-cost tuner card. Use your stereo for the sound. The advantage of this approach is you can capture stills and clips from TV to your hard disk, and use your hard disk like a TiVo, though the software is more primitive.

Some HDTVs (High Definition Televisions) now come with computer connections, with VGA (Video Graphics Adapter) analog and HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) digital connector, so you can treat them like huge monitors.

It is a good idea to have a look at a TV before buying to make sure the screen is not so glossy that you get glare. There is no specification to measure the glossiness of the screen. The more expensive, usually the glossier, since it looks sexy in the showroom.

HDTV cables and Connectors

An HDTV might have a variety of possible inputs including:
Image Video ? Audio ? Notes
HDMI connector
HDMI connector
HDMI (digital, latest and greatest). The signal is the output of a tuner, a single video channel (with theatre sound channels), uncompressed. It uses a 19-pin connector that looks at first glance similar to a USB connector. Digital means noise-free. These cables cost $50.00 CAD to $150.00 CAD so check if they are included and factor them into the cost of your new TV. Coming soon, HDMI 1.3 which will have increased bandwidth.
coax connector
coax connector
Digital coax cable from the cable/ DSS (Digital Satellite System) company. At a casual glance these look like RCA (Radio Corporation of America) phone jack cables. Read the label. These cables cost $25.00 USD to $100.00 USD Also analog coax cable from the cable/satellite dish company.
6-pin Firewire connector
6-pin Firewire connector
Firewire IEEE (Institute of Electrical & Electronics Engineers) 1394 so you can hook up your Mac. There are 4 and 6 pin versions and three speeds 1394a, 1394b and 1394c. The 6-pin type are most commonly used in HDTV. Apple collects royalties on every Firewire port in the universe. This is mainly why they are more expensive than USB ports. These cables cost $6.00 USD to $35.00 USD
DVI-D connector
DVI-D connector
DVI-D (Digital Video Interface — Data) (older digital scheme). Video-only, no audio.
component A/V connector
component A/V connector
Component Video (analog). Uses colour difference, not simple RGB (Red Green Blue). Connectors are labelled [Y R B] YRB (Yellow Red Blue) or [Y, R-Y, B-Y] Y, R-Y, B-Y (Yellow, Red minus Yellow, Blue minus Yellow) or [Y, Cr, Cb] or [Y, Pr, Pb]. That handles the video. In addition you have two more cables for left and right audio. These cables cost $30.00 USD to $105.00 USD
S-Video DIN connector
S-Video DIN connector
S-Video DIN (Deutsches Institut für Normung/German Institute for Standardisation) (analog DTV, low quality). The signal is the output of a tuner, a single channel, decompressed, analog. It uses a 4-pin mini DIN connector. It separates out brightness and colour signals. It is video-only. $6.00 USD
S-Video coax connector
S-Video coax connector
S-Video dual coax (analog DTV, low quality). The signal is the output of a tuner, a single channel, decompressed, analog. It uses a dual coax connector. It separates out brightness and colour signals. It is video-only. $50.00 CAD
VGA analog PC connector
VGA analog PC connector
PC (Personal Computer) VGA, analog, so you can hook up your computer. 15 pins, often with pin 9, a keying pin missing. That handles the video. In addition you have two more cables for left and right audio. These cables cost $7.00 USD to $30.00 USD
S/PDIF PC audio digital optical connector
S/PDIF PC audio digital optical connector
S/PDIF (Sony/Philips Digital Interconnect Format) PC audio digital optical connector
S/PDIF. Aka Toslink (Toshiba Link) PC Audio, so you can hook up your computer. This could be a variety of connectors including mini plugs, RCA phono jacks, S/PDIF digital 5.1 (front left/right, back left/right, woofer) optical fibre or S/PDIF coax. You may need to buy adapter cables to convert. S/PDIF optical is shown. Audio only.
S/PDIF PC audio digital coax connector
S/PDIF PC audio digital coax connector
S/PDIF. PC Audio, so you can hook up your computer. This could be a variety of connectors including mini plugs, RCA phono jacks, S/PDIF digital 5.1 (front left/right, back left/right, woofer) optical fibre or S/PDIF coax. You may need to buy adapter cables to convert. S/PDIF coax is shown.
composite A/V connector
composite A/V connector
Composite NTSC A/V analog legacy, aka yellow RCA connector. You will get an old-style analog NTSC picture. These look a lot like digital coax. Make sure you read the label when you buy cables.
Above images are not shown to the same scale.

Digital Video Recorder

A DVR (Digital Video Recorder) (Digital Video Recorder), sometimes called a TiVo (though that is actually a brand name of a premium quality DVR ) is a small computer with a hard drive that can record television shows on a hard disk. It is the digital equivalent of the VCR. Unlike a VCR, it can record only so many hours before it is full and you have to erase something to make room for more. There is no cartridge that you can replace to give it infinite capacity. Though it would seem to me, it should be relatively easy for DVR makers to add a DVD burner so you can export recorded shows. It can also do instant replay in slow motion, or full speed. It can instantly jump to anything previously recorded, unlike a VCR which must slew tape. I was astounded to learn there is no proper protocol for the DVR to control the cable company’s channel changer box, unless you buy your DVR from the cable company. The DVR works in a rinky dink, unreliable way by pretending to be an infrared remote control. DVRs (Digital Video Recorders) are usually much cleverer than VCRs (Videocassette Recorders). You can, for example, tell them to record episodes of House that you do not already have recorded, without telling it when to record or which channel. It automatically consults the computerised TV listings to discover when it is on.

Real World Equipment

Amazon is a fun place to window shop since they tend to have a fair bit of technical information about the various models. You can search sorting by price, which is a way to sort out what various features cost you. The following links are to high end equipment. High end models tend to have the best explanations of what the various features buy you. Further, you can Google the model numbers to find even more information from the manufacturer and online reviews all over the web. From there you can find more reasonably priced items.

Check the native resolution. If it is not 1920 × 1080 or higher, your screen will not do full HDTV. It may display the image, but not in full detail. Only the largest TVs offer 1920 × 1080. Most offer 1366 × 768, ¾ the full resolution.

A 15” analog CRT TV is has a 15” diagonal tube size. The actual viewing area might only be 13.5” to 14” diagonal, i.e.. You may only get 8.2” wide by 8.2” high with a viewing area of 93 square inches.
The way sizes are specified for LCD TVs is more honest. A 15” LCD is 15” across, 8.4” tall with 126.6 square inches of viewing area, i.e. 36% more than a 15” analog CRT.

It costs about $100.00 CAD extra for a digital tuner built into the TV. You will need this to receive broadcasts through the air over an antenna. You probably will not need it for cable service since the cable company provides the tuner box specially designed to hook into their network. An analog NTSC tuner, nearly always built-in, will let you continue to receive analog cable service.

If you can’t afford the digital service of HDTV service, and are going to continue with the old analog NTSC cable service, there is not much point in getting a TV that can do all the high resolutions, unless you get a Blu-Ray DVD player and rent movies.

Shopping for an HDTV

This HDTV equipment is in ascending order by list price. This approximates the order of street price.

electronic product image recommend electronic⇒Toshiba DVD/DivX Playerto electronic home
asin B000MXB0TK
Toshiba SD-4000 DVD/DivX Player. This can play ordinary and DivX DVDs, often used for ordinary resolution movie rentals. This player provides inputs to a DTV, or a HDTV, but it cannot read the high res HD-DVD or Blu-Ray DVDs. Output S-video.
American flag amazon.com bestbuy.ca Canadian flag
Canadian flag amazon.ca canadacomputers.com Canadian flag
Chinese flag amazon.cn ncix.ca Canadian flag
German flag amazon.de newegg.ca Canadian flag
Spanish flag amazon.es tigerdirect.ca Canadian flag
French flag amazon.fr bestbuy.com American flag
Italian flag amazon.it ncixus.com American flag
UK flag amazon.co.uk newegg.com American flag
India flag junglee.com tigerdirect.com American flag
other stores UN flag
Greyed out stores probably do not have the item in stock
electronic product image recommend electronic⇒Haupauge HDTV tuner cardto electronic home
asin B001AZEHD0
Hauppauge 1199 WinTV-HVR-1600 plugs into a PCI slot. There are many other models. This is a cheap way to get HDTV. Fits inside your computer. Uses your computer monitor and computer speakers. It has 1920 × 1080 resolution, 1080i not full HDTV 1080p. It can connect to an over-the-air antenna or a S-Video connection to a cable box. If you buy a tuner make sure it accepts suitable inputs. The catches:
  • You can’t use your computer while people are watching TV.
  • The screen likely won’t be all that big.
  • The viewing angle on your screen will be narrower than for a true TV.
  • You need to hook your computer up to your stereo to get decent sound.
It contains a hardware mp2 recorder.
American flag amazon.com bestbuy.ca Canadian flag
Canadian flag amazon.ca canadacomputers.com Canadian flag
Chinese flag amazon.cn ncix.ca Canadian flag
German flag amazon.de newegg.ca Canadian flag
Spanish flag amazon.es tigerdirect.ca Canadian flag
French flag amazon.fr bestbuy.com American flag
Italian flag amazon.it ncixus.com American flag
UK flag amazon.co.uk newegg.com American flag
India flag junglee.com tigerdirect.com American flag
other stores UN flag
Greyed out stores probably do not have the item in stock
electronic product image recommend electronic⇒Samsung BD-H5900 Blu-Ray Disc Playerto electronic home
asin B00ICDAAXO
Full HD 1080p Blu-ray Disc playback. 3D Blu-ray Disc playback. WiFi.
American flag amazon.com bestbuy.ca Canadian flag
Canadian flag amazon.ca canadacomputers.com Canadian flag
Chinese flag amazon.cn ncix.ca Canadian flag
German flag amazon.de newegg.ca Canadian flag
Spanish flag amazon.es tigerdirect.ca Canadian flag
French flag amazon.fr bestbuy.com American flag
Italian flag amazon.it ncixus.com American flag
UK flag amazon.co.uk newegg.com American flag
India flag junglee.com tigerdirect.com American flag
other stores UN flag
Greyed out stores probably do not have the item in stock
electronic product image recommend electronic⇒TiVo Roamio HD Digital Video Recorder and Streaming Media Playerto electronic home
asin B00EEOSZK0
model TCD846500. This includes a 500 Gb disk. This is enough for 75 hours of HD or 500 hours of SD. Can connect to Verision FIOS, HD antenna, Netflix, Hulu Plus, Pandora, Spotify. Does not work with satellite or AT&T U-verse. Does not include the monthly TiVo fee. Specs. Has an Ethernet Port and WiFi. HDMI output. There are two more expensive models with a 1 TB and 3 TB disk.
American flag amazon.com bestbuy.ca Canadian flag
Canadian flag amazon.ca canadacomputers.com Canadian flag
Chinese flag amazon.cn ncix.ca Canadian flag
German flag amazon.de newegg.ca Canadian flag
Spanish flag amazon.es tigerdirect.ca Canadian flag
French flag amazon.fr bestbuy.com American flag
Italian flag amazon.it ncixus.com American flag
UK flag amazon.co.uk newegg.com American flag
India flag junglee.com tigerdirect.com American flag
other stores UN flag
Greyed out stores probably do not have the item in stock
electronic product image recommend electronic⇒Samsung UN32EH5000 32-Inch 1080p 60Hz LED HDTVto electronic home
asin B0071O4ETQ
Model UN32EH5000. Comes in 32, 40, 46 and 50 inch sizes. Full 1080p. Clear Motion Rate 120, good an showing action without blur. Has a USB port. No WiFi. No 3D. No fancy smart TV features. Samsung makes 15 lines of TVs, each in up to 7 sizes. HDMI or component output. Optical 5.1 out. Specs.
American flag amazon.com bestbuy.ca Canadian flag
Canadian flag amazon.ca canadacomputers.com Canadian flag
Chinese flag amazon.cn ncix.ca Canadian flag
German flag amazon.de newegg.ca Canadian flag
Spanish flag amazon.es tigerdirect.ca Canadian flag
French flag amazon.fr bestbuy.com American flag
Italian flag amazon.it ncixus.com American flag
UK flag amazon.co.uk newegg.com American flag
India flag junglee.com tigerdirect.com American flag
other stores UN flag
Greyed out stores probably do not have the item in stock
electronic product image recommend electronic⇒Samsung UN55H6350 55-Inch 1080p 120Hz Smart LED TVto electronic home
asin B00I94IPTW
dim 1.40 metres
4.58 ft
3D, 4 HDMI ports. Smart TV: can get content from the web. 120Hz refresh rate.
American flag amazon.com bestbuy.ca Canadian flag
Canadian flag amazon.ca canadacomputers.com Canadian flag
Chinese flag amazon.cn ncix.ca Canadian flag
German flag amazon.de newegg.ca Canadian flag
Spanish flag amazon.es tigerdirect.ca Canadian flag
French flag amazon.fr bestbuy.com American flag
Italian flag amazon.it ncixus.com American flag
UK flag amazon.co.uk newegg.com American flag
India flag junglee.com tigerdirect.com American flag
other stores UN flag
Greyed out stores probably do not have the item in stock
electronic product image recommend electronic⇒Samsung UN65H6350 65-Inch 1080p 120Hz Smart LED TV. 120 Hz refresh.to electronic home
asin B00I94IPXS
dim 1.65 metres
5.42 ft
3D, 4 HDMI inputs. Smart TV: can get content from the web.
American flag amazon.com bestbuy.ca Canadian flag
Canadian flag amazon.ca canadacomputers.com Canadian flag
Chinese flag amazon.cn ncix.ca Canadian flag
German flag amazon.de newegg.ca Canadian flag
Spanish flag amazon.es tigerdirect.ca Canadian flag
French flag amazon.fr bestbuy.com American flag
Italian flag amazon.it ncixus.com American flag
UK flag amazon.co.uk newegg.com American flag
India flag junglee.com tigerdirect.com American flag
other stores UN flag
Greyed out stores probably do not have the item in stock
electronic product image recommend electronic⇒Panasonic Plasma 65” HDTVto electronic home
asin B000LCPVMY
Panasonic TH 65PF9UK. Bright plasma display. It is 65” wide. It has 1920 × 1080 resolution, full HDTV 1080p. Does not contain a tuner. The cable company set top box must provide channel selection logic. Has one DVI connection.
American flag amazon.com bestbuy.ca Canadian flag
Canadian flag amazon.ca canadacomputers.com Canadian flag
Chinese flag amazon.cn ncix.ca Canadian flag
German flag amazon.de newegg.ca Canadian flag
Spanish flag amazon.es tigerdirect.ca Canadian flag
French flag amazon.fr bestbuy.com American flag
Italian flag amazon.it ncixus.com American flag
UK flag amazon.co.uk newegg.com American flag
India flag junglee.com tigerdirect.com American flag
other stores UN flag
Greyed out stores probably do not have the item in stock
electronic product image recommend electronic⇒Samsung UN75ES9000 75-Inch 1080p 240Hz 3D Slim LED HDTV (Gold)to electronic home
asin B0074FGZYO
dim 167.89 × 95.76 × 3.56 cm
5.51 × 3.14 × 0.12 ft
This is Samsung’s top of the line mega TV with all possible bells and whistles. 75 inch, 1080p, 240Hz refresh, 3D LED, WiFi, micro dimming, Skype, browse the net, camera, ConnectShare movies. It is ridiculously priced, but you might afford a used one.
American flag amazon.com bestbuy.ca Canadian flag
Canadian flag amazon.ca canadacomputers.com Canadian flag
Chinese flag amazon.cn ncix.ca Canadian flag
German flag amazon.de newegg.ca Canadian flag
Spanish flag amazon.es tigerdirect.ca Canadian flag
French flag amazon.fr bestbuy.com American flag
Italian flag amazon.it ncixus.com American flag
UK flag amazon.co.uk newegg.com American flag
India flag junglee.com tigerdirect.com American flag
other stores UN flag
Greyed out stores probably do not have the item in stock

Roedy’s HDTV

On 2009-02-21 I bought a 32” inch Sharp Aquos LC-32D44U, 1,366 × 768 pixels resolution. The reasons I picked it were:

Advantages

Negatives

Tips

Bandwidth

To support DTV and HDTV takes considerably more information since the HDTV image has (1920 × 1080) / 648 × 486 ) = 6.6 times as many pixels per frame (though full 1080p would rarely be delivered via cable and never by air broadcast). In addition, the cable or broadcaster might provide three or more versions of the program: analog, digital and HDTV. Where does all the extra bandwidth come from? The HDTV versions could not be broadcast in the same VHF frequency band as the original analog TV station. It must be carved out of new UHF (Ultra High Frequency) bandwidth. On cable, the carrier can be creative with agile frequency assignments, assigning frequencies dynamically as needed for the various combinations of programming. This is transparent to the TV. HDTV always appears to the user as a fixed channel/frequency, usually in the 200s. For a station that broadcasts sometimes in HDTV and sometimes in normal resolution, all the programs will appear on the HDTV channel. There would be a second channel that always broadcasts in regular resolution. There is no automatic channel hopping when an HDTV show comes on. HDTV is compressed, that how you can get 10 times a many channels even though each channel taxes 6.6 times as much information.

Besides the air, cable, satellite, and DVD rentals you can also download programming over the Internet sometimes free and sometimes for a fee.

Stages

Here are the stages in evolving TV. The longer you stall to adopt the new technology, the lower the prices will drop.
  1. Analog TV with analog cable service. Problem with interference on some channels, with mild to severe degradation of picture and sound.
  2. Analog TV with digital cable service. Removes interference introduced in the cable system. Still has minor interference on the cable from the box to the TV.
  3. Digital TV with analog cable service. Some channels, usually the local ones, will be quite sharp and clear. Others will be blurry or greyed.
  4. Digital TV with digital cable service. Removes all interference. You can still get complete loss of picture with a weak signal, but you won’t get snow. You get the full size letterbox picture broadcast by the TV station.
  5. HD TV with analog cable service. Some channels, usually the local ones, will be quite sharp and clear. Others will be blurry or greyed. The TV chops the top and bottom of the analog broadcast off to make it fit on the wide format TV, giving you the effect the camera is always zooming in for a closeup.
  6. HD TV with digital cable service. No interference. The TV chops the top and bottom of the DTV broadcast off to make it fit on the wide format TV, giving you the effect the camera is always zooming in for a closeup.
  7. HD TV with HDTV cable service. No interference. Large clear 720 pixel high picture, at least for shows broadcast in HDTV and for HD DVDs.
  8. HD TV with HD TiVo with record function. Ability to record shows while you watch another one. Ability to pause shows you are watching live, or replay.
  9. HD TV with HD TiVo with record function and HD TV and theatre speaker system. Theatre-like surround sound. 720 pixel high picture for broadcasts and 1080 high for blu-Ray DVDs.

Unfortunately, the more channels there are the lower the quality of the programming content on each channel. Stations with nothing but infomercials may well have technically crisp images and sound and the latest HDTV. There is a fixed advertising budget spread over more and more channels. The future Internet based on fibre will allow each channel to have world wide distribution. This should cause the total number of channels to drop, and hence for quality of each channel to rise again, along with tens of thousands of amateur, low-budget and niche channels, some of which will be available on a subscription basis.

HDTV Pleasant Surprises

HDTV Disappointments

On 2009-09-28 I signed up for HDTV service with Shaw. There are a number of reasons it is not as good as I expected:

Motorola DCT700 Adapter

Shaw provides a Motorola DCT700 adapter box with its bare bones digital service. I am dismayed by how poorly it is designed. I expect much better from Motorola, after experience with their superb CPU (Central Processing Unit) chips. Its job is to select the channel and provide it to the TV on digital channel 3. It also provides the program guide, controls which access to subscription channels and handles pay per view and video on demand.

Advantages

Disadvantages

floatright

Rant

Future

Here are some features I would like to see standard on future TVs. I want these narrowing features so simple a 4 year old could use them..

Power surfing: there are two buttons on the remote marked green plus and red minus. Hitting either button skips to the next higher channel. If you hit the red minus, that channel is temporarily disabled, taken out of the running, until the current program on that channel ends. You might continue until you have it narrowed down to three active channels. Then you can rapidly cycle between them as the programs play out, by repeatedly tapping green plus  e.g. to find the most interesting news story at any moment playing on any of three news programs. To help speed the process, the TV knows the daily schedule, and hence can display the name of the program and the episode in overtext, even when there is a commercial playing. The adapter box has to look ahead to the next channel to surf to get it ready to display to avoid the usual delay in switching channels.

nut gathering: While you are watching a show, you can tell the TV you really like or really dislike this show by pressing  always then green plus or red minus.

For shows you like, it will automatically record that show any time in future it appears (even when you are not watching the TV) on any channel. You then don’t have to keep track of the frantically changing schedules to catch your favourite shows. When you sit down to watch there will be a fat library of materials waiting for you. The TV might even be smart enough to go looking on the Internet for content.

If you don’t like a show, and mark it as such, whenever that show is playing, its channel will be temporarily disabled, and skipped over as though it did not even exist.

To deal with the problem of accidentally marking shows as bad, they come back after a week. If you mark them bad again, they stay bad for a month. If you mark them bad again, they stay bad for a year. If you mark them bad again, they stay bad indefinitely.

The TV records each family member’s preferences separately, and for various groupings of people.

The TV knows the episodes as well as the shows. That way it will not bother to record an episode it already has.

It remembers your preferences, so that when these shows appear in future, it treats them the same way you did last time they aired by default.

Reminders: You tell your box about your favourite shows. If I have recording ability, they are automatically recorded, no matter what channel or time. If you don’t have recording, it flashes a reminder they are currently on some other channel, and allows you with a single button push to jump to it.

This could be implemented by a computer/hard disk in the TV, in a separate TiVo box, or by computers housed at the cable company. The advantage of having the cable company do it is they can handle backup and recovery automatically. Even if there is a local box at the client site, the cable company should handle back up for you. They don’t need to keep multiple copies of the same show. One copy will suffice for all customers. This efficiency might lower the cost of the service.

You could subscribe à la carte to individual shows, so for example I could subscribe to Le Plus Grand Cabaret du Mond instead of the entire Tv5 channel. Part of the motivation for this is to give the cable company more precise idea of what content is generating revenue, and hopefully direct money to create more such content. You should get a discount for letting the cable company precisely monitor your viewing habits.

TV, computer and Internet should be integrated, so that you can use your computer to do all the functions of the remote, with the advantage of mouse and keyboard, e. g. You could type the name of a show you were interested in and find out when it was playing. You could select shows of interest or ones you never want to see again with a mouse click, and have your video guide collapse down. The computer might be tied to the TV via the Internet, wireless LAN (Local Area Network) or cable LAN. You should be able to view video on your computer, and manage your collection of recordings using the computer and the computer’s mass storage and backup. The computer could keep track of what you watched.

I feel rage every time I turn on the TV or watch a DVD. From the user’s point of view, that is a single atomic command. Surely I should have to press only one button. But no, you have to press half a dozen to talk independently to the cable box, the TV and the DVD player, in a magic incantation, meaningful only to a technophile. If a novice gets it wrong, they have to call me to get the system working again. I could spit at the gross incompetence of the sound equipment engineers. Here are the instructions necessary for anyone else to use my TV even casually:

Turning on TV

  1. Point remote at the Shaw box.
  2. Hit TV (upper right).
  3. Hit Power (red, upper right)
  4. Hit CBL
  5. Hit Power

Using TV

  1. On the Shaw remote, hit Guide.
  2. Hit FAV
  3. Hit Up or Down Arrow to change channels.
  4. Hit OK/Select to view a channel.
  5. Hit Info to see more about a show.
  6. To see another channel, go to step 1.

Playing a DVD

  1. Turn on the TV as above.
  2. Turn right small knob on stereo to DVD.
  3. Turn left knob on stereo to STEREO.
  4. Use TV remote. Select Input 2-DVD.
  5. Turn on the DVD player with the Power button on the DVD player.
  6. Hit Eject on the DVD player.
  7. Insert a DVD.
  8. Use DVD remote. Hit Play near the middle.

Reverting back to TV

  1. Turn right small knob on stereo to TV/DSS.
  2. Turn left knob on stereo to STEREO.
  3. Use TV remote. Select Input 3-HD.
  4. Use DVD Remote. Hit Eject/Open/Close near the top.
  5. Remove the DVD.
  6. Power off the DVD player with the button on the DVD player.

Power Off

  1. Hit TV (upper right).
  2. Hit Power (red, upper right).
  3. Hit CBL.
  4. Hit Power
  5. If DVD is on, hit POWER with the DVD remote.
Here is what it should look like if the people who designed the equipment were competent:

Turning on TV

  1. Point remote at the Shaw box.
  2. Hit TV on the remote.

Using TV

  1. Hit Up or Down Arrow to change channels.
  2. Hit OK/Select to view a channel
  3. Hit Info to see more about a show.
  4. To see another channel hit Guide and go to step 1.

Playing a DVD

  1. Hit DVD on the remote.
  2. Follow instructions on the screen to select episode to view.

Reverting back to TV

  1. Hit TV on the remote.

Power Off

  1. Hit OFF.

This is spitting mad ludicrous. Every last time anyone attempts to follow these instructions without me monitoring them, they miss a step, or make a mistake putting the system into brain freeze, requiring me to come rescue it.

Telus Optik

Telus again deceives its customers. You would think this was TV delivered via fibre optics. It is not, normally, though a few subscribers do get optical delivery. It is usually delivered over the phone line with ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line technology) using an Internet-like protocol. Telus itself reveals no technical details, but I would imagine it works by sending you the packets for the channel you are currently watching from servers at the Telus office. There is not enough bandwidth on a phone to send all channels at once the way cable HDTV does.

Telus offers its medium package for $33.00 CAD per month, but that is only for the first 6 months. After that it jacks up to $53.00 CAD . The works is $82.00 CAD jumping to $128.00 CAD . They have various promotions that throw in a free PVR rental for six months or a laptop or… Check these out too, or lower rates. I discontinued my Telus service when I discovered they offered the same services to different customers for wildly different rates. They advertise all kinds of different rates for essentially the same package, and real in the suckers to don’t research to find the lowest one. When you sign up, they won’t tell you of the better deal. And of course they won’t notify you if a better deal comes up than the you signed up for, and they won’t lower your rate to match it either. You are dealing with a company with slimier than average ethics, so you have to keep your wits about you.

There is one to three-year lockin. In addition, watch out for charges for programming above the basic channel set, installation changes, PVR rental charges, taxes, early termination charges. Telus is unusually dishonest about revealing costs up front. If I were to sign up, I would want them to send me a letter promising the given list of changes was complete and accurate. Competitor Shaw is utterly incompetent at the favourites feature to hide channels you don’t watch or don’t subscribe to. They ignored multiple requests to fix the bugs. Telus’s corresponding feature reputedly works properly. The programming for Shaw’s set top box is incompetent. Apparently the Telus equivalent is much better.

Internet TV

TV delivered via your Internet connection is very low cost. The catches are: One company SatelliteToTV offer software for $50.00 USD that will let you access 3000 global channels indefinitely at no additional cost. That sounds too good to be true. Who pays for the bandwidth? I wrote to clarify, but they just sent me a copy of their online FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) which had no information on any of my questions.

The Bottom Line

I finally decided that HDTV had deteriorated too much to tolerate. I also had a long term low level resentment that my Shaw bill was always considerably higher than the salesperson lead me to believe it would be. They consistently failed to disclose taxes and other charges that jacked the bill way up. I sent a letter to Shaw to cancel my service. They ignored it. I sent an email. They ignored it. I took the set top box to their office. There was a line snaking out the doors down the street. I estimated over a hour to be served. I took by box and placed it by the counter. I clerk told me I could not do that. I would have to wait in line. I said, But I’m finished with Shaw and walked out, to the cheers of a few customers.

Here is my original letter:

I would like to discontinue my HDTV service, but keep Internet and phone service.

The main reason is rapidly deteriorating content. So often, in all those channels there is nothing I would like to watch.

In particular the National Geographic channel has deteriorated promoting Christian propaganda posing as hard science. Even the crime shows are riddled with Christian superstition.

The History channel rarely has anything about history any more.

Even for basic cable 40% of the fee goes to Disney for royalties for the sports channels whether you want them or not.

I find it hard to believe that anyone seriously finds all these reality shows about dumpster diving through trash entertaining or police breaking into black people’s homes to insult and bully them.

It seems like any idiot with a camera can get on TV.

News has little news anymore just opinions and fluff.

The problem is the more channels, the smaller the budget for each channel, so all you get is trash.

The other reason is almost as important. Your remotes are buggy. I have written several times. They are now worse that ever. All by themselves, they keep jumping off favourites back to the full suite of channels. The incompetence in the set top programming is inexcusable. You have had years to correct the problems. I have seen the same problems in three different models of set top boxes. The problem is incompetent programming. On top of that the convoluted design of the menus is inept, done by a rank amateur. Your lack of action on the favourites bug is like a slap in the face every time it happens dozens of times a day. Your excuse was Not many people use favourites. Of course not, its broken and hard to set up!

Pundits predict network TV will be gone by 2020, and everyone will be going for digital content. Given the crappy quality of online video this is surprising. Online content lurches, stalls and has poor image quality. People are willing to put up with a lot for the ability to see what you want to see when you want to see it. That should improve as fibre optic is installed.

I have discontinued cable. The content quality was too low to bother with. The prices were always much higher than promised, and kept creeping up. The cable company, Shaw, is panicking and keeps calling to offer me service for a token $5 a month. They can’t believe it when I turn them down. I tell them I prefer life without network TV. We borrow DVDs from the library and watch online content.

Active vs Passive 3D glasses
Apple TV
ATSC Standards
Belkin cables
Bell TV: (née ExpressVu) Canadian HDTV satellite provider
DAB+
DirecTV: American HDTV satellite provider
Dish Network: American HDTV satellite provider
DVD
DVI
Google Chromecast
HDMI
HDTV in the USA
HDTV overview
Hulu
LocateTV US TV schedules
Monster cable
Motorola/Google set top boxes: typical of HDTV tuners you buy/rent from the cable company. Shaw.ca uses the DCT1616
NetFlix
pay per view
Rabbit TV
Rogers.com: Canadian HDTV cable provider
Roku
S-Video
S/PDIF
Shaw.ca: Canadian HDTV cable provider
Shomi
Star Choice: Canadian HDTV satellite provider
streaming video
TV above 1080p resolution
video on demand

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